The proposed salary of the University of Illinois' new president-elect might be too high, but he's not the reason student tuition is on the rise.
The University of Illinois board of trustees had a busy day today. Not only did the body contemplate raising tuition 9.5 percent for new freshmen next year, but it also prepared to approve the hire of Michael Hogan as the university's new president.
Hogan, the former president of the University of Connecticut, is a hot commodity. School officials have offered him a base salary of $620,000, a wage they say is comparable to other Big 10 schools. Still, it's $170,000 more than interim president Stanley Ikenberry currently earns. State Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) and members of SEIU Local 73, who have already been asked to take furlough days themselves, think it's way too much.
At a rally this late morning, Sandoval asked Hogan to forgo the salary bump. He also called on the university to freeze tuition for incoming students next year. "When the president of a university makes more than the President of the United States, or makes more than the governor of the state of Illinois, or makes more than the mayor of Chicago, there is an issue." Watch:
During a severe economic crunch, when the state's revenues are in the tank and students and university employees are being asked to sacrifice greatly, it's totally reasonable of Sandoval to request Hogan voluntarily give back the raise. But we shouldn't pretend that the state legislature is an innocent bystander in the college cost crunch. Since FY 1997, state allocations for higher education have dropped $137 million in real dollars. It's far lower when adjusted for inflation. Worse yet, the state can't even keep up with those measly payments, falling behind on its appropriations to U of I by $464 million.
The money to cover basic educational costs has to come from somewhere. Students and campus workers are doing their part. State lawmakers can't say the same.
(Full disclosure: The SEIU Illinois State Council sponsors this website.)